LECH WALESA: One moment. First of all we have to clear things up. $1I am not a diplomat, I am not a master of ceremonies and even less an intellectual. I am an uncouth man, a worker. I have never read a book in my life, and I am a man with a goal to reach, so I don't give a damn for certain things. Not for the books, not for the interviews, not the Nobel Prize and even less for you. I have no complexes, I don't. Neither toward the generals, nor toward the prime ministers, nor toward you. I can give a punch on the desk of a prime minister, I can leave a general in the lurch without saying goodbye, and as for you I can do the same. Anyway, I am the one who puts the first question: What do I lose, how much do I lose with this interview? Besides, why do you look at me that way?
ORIANA FALLACI: I look at you because you resemble Stalin. Has anybody ever told you that you resemble Stalin? I mean physically. Yes, same nose, same profile, same features, same mustache. And same height, I believe, same size.
A: Nie, nie, nie . No, no, no, nobody told me and I don't care. I didn't know it, I don't want to know it and you haven't answered my question yet. So I put another one: This interview, how do you write it? Question and answer, question and answer, or all together with the comments inside? Because the comments inside, I don't like them. It isn't fair, it is the reader who must make his comment and decide if the guy is right or wrong.
Q: Listen, Walesa. My interviews are written question and answer, question and answer, always. Whether you gain or you lose with this one, I don't know, because it depends on what you will tell me. And if you don't mind, I am the one who asks. Now let's start. Seven months ago, nobody knew your name outside Poland and very few, I guess, inside Poland. Today you are one of the most famous men in the world and you drive Brezhnev crazy with your Solidarity movement, you put [former polish Communist Party chief Edward] Gierek out of a job, you give [present Polish Communist party chief Stanislaw] Kania a headache each time you call for a strike. When you go to Rome you are received by the pope as a head of state or a star and . . .
A: Stop, stop, stop, stop.
Q: Why? What happened?
A: It happens that you have a very authoritarian style, a typically dictatorial one. And as I do too, we have a problem. The problem is to find a compromise. So let's make a deal. From now on I will be nice with you and you will be nice with me, OK?
Q: OK. Here is the question: When you measure this glory, this power which fell on your shoulders, don't you ever say, my God, this is too much for me, I cannot keep it?
a: Yeah, yeah, yeah. The Holy Virgin knows. I'm tired, bloody tired, and not only in my body because I never sleep, my heart doesn't work as it should, it throbs, it hurts. I'm tired inside, in the soul. This life is not for me. Meeting people for whom you must wear a tie, knowing good manners, listening to recommendations: Don't do this, don't do that, please smile. Ties strangle me, I cannot wear them, and why in hell should I smile when I don't feel like it? Nothing is permitted to me anymore, nothing. I cannot have a drink, I cannot pick up a girl, else the whole world falls apart and they say that the soda water went to my head. It isn't right. And you must say it, you must explain that men are men even if they make politics, men are sinners, so what?
Q: Yes, but I meant something else, Walesa. I meant the responsibility you took in front of your country and of history. Don't you ever feel scared by it, inadequate?
A: Nie, nie, nie . No, no, no, because I am a man of faith and because I know that this moment needs a guy like me. A guy who can make decisions with good sense and solve problems in a cautious, moderate way. I am not a fool. I do understand that too many injustices got accumulated during these 36 years, so things cannot change from morning to night. It takes patience, it takes wisdom. I mean, the rage that people would like to burst like a bomb must be controlled. And I know how to control it, because I know how to reason though I am not a learned man, I know how to say things with the proper words. Like I did with the peasants at the strike in Jelenia Gora, for instance, when I yelled at them: "You've started the wrong strike, you idiots, you champions of stupidity, I'm against you." And 300 people remained speechless. Well, speaking to the crowds isn't always the art of going with the crowds, sometimes it's the art of going against the crowds and . . . Do I look pretentious?
Q: You don't. Why?
A: Because sometimes I give this impression. But I am not pretentious, believe me. I am a guy who wants to help people. For instance, if you ask me a favor, get me there, get me something, I immediately do my utmost. And I get you there even if I get myself into trouble, even if my friends say: "Mind your business. Is it your business?" I like to make myself useful. It was so even in December 1970 and in August 1980, when I did what I did because nobody wanted to do it. It was so when I worked in the opposition, and today it is the same. I mean, I know how far we can go with our demands, I know what country we live in and what our realities are. I know the path we must follow. And the danger is to abandon such a path, to stray from the line because of a few blockheads or a few hotheaded idiots who don't understand.
So I have to keep repeating to them that things cannot be obtained too fast, that the demands must be put at the right time, without impatience. Look at the monument we erected for our dead, our workers killed by the police in 1970. Had we built it at once or two years later, now it would be simply the branch of a tree. easy to cut. Instead, today it's a tree and its roots are so deep that nobody can extirpate them, and if it will be cut it will blossom again.
Q: Lech, where did you learn to talk like that, from whom?
A: I don't know. I told you that I never read a book, anything. I never had teachers either, nor examples to imitate. I always solved my problems alone. Even the technical ones, like to fix a TV set or a sink, I think them over and I fix them in my way. Politics is the same. I think it over and I find the solution, or at least a solution. As for the moderate line I gave to Solidarity however, I can tell you that I set it after the defeats of 1968 and 1970. It was then that I realized the necessity of working without impatience; otherwise, we would break our heads. I said to myself: Lech, a wall cannot be demolished with butts, we must move slowly, step by step, otherwise the wall remains untouched and we break our heads. You know, I have been arrested a hundred times, more or less, usually 48-hour arrests, and one thinks very well in jail because in jail there aren't noises and one is alone. It was in jail that I also found the way of sowing doubt into the minds of my jailers, to make them release me and to make them understand how wrong they were toward the country and themselves. Finally, it was in jail that I discovered the system of informing people about my arrests. Because it is useless to be arrested if people don't know.
Q: What was this system, Lech?
A: Well, when they released me and I went home, I placed myself in front of a bus stop and even if I had money to buy my ticket I pretended to be penniless. So I asked the people to buy my ticket, explaining that I had been arrested and why. People got interested and bought my ticket. Then I took the bus and during the trip I continued to explain, I held sort of a rally for them to warm up feelings. I did so for years. Wherever I went, whatever I did, I made something happen.
Q: This is great politics, Lech.
A: Nie, nie, nie , I am no politician, I have never been. Maybe one day I'll be one. I have just started to look around and understand their tricks, their calculations, but today I am no politician. The proof is that if I were a politician I would like doing what I do now, I would never have enough of it. Instead I'm fed up and I tell you at once what I am: I am a man full of anger, an anger I have kept in my stomach since I was a boy, a youngster. And when a man accumulates the anger I have accumulated for so many years, he learns to manage it all right. Which explains why I control so well the crowds and the strikes. Ha! One has to be very angry in order to know how to control the anger of the people. One has to have learned to live with it. Listen, my rage has been stored up for so long that I could keep it in at least five more years. That is, until 1985. It burst in August 1980 because I became aware that the occasion was bigger then I could hope. And I jumped beyond the fences of the Lenin shipyards in Gdansk.
Q: Let's talk about that, Lech, about the day you jumped beyond the fences.
A: Well, long before it happened we had considered the possibility of some big strike in Gdansk. We had considered it in our meetings when we taught the workers the history of Poland and the union laws. In fact, I had made myself ready to avoid an excessive situation and I had told the workers if there is an uproar I want to be informed at once. And when I was informed I immediately realized that the uproar had burst early because the situation was ripe, thus I had to get into the shipyards. The trouble was that four gentlemen -- I mean, four policemen -- watched me day and night. I got them lost -- I won't tell you how, because I might need that trick again in the future -- and I got to the shipyards and I jumped inside. I got there at a crucial moment. In fact, there was a meeting of 2,000 workers and the big boss was asking them to leave, making his promises. And nobody cared to oppose him. As a matter of fact, they were already leaving. I felt my blood boil. I elbowed my way through the crowd, I set myself in front of him and -- do you know boxing? I landed him a straight left and I put him down so quickly that he almost fell out of the ring. I mean, I shouted at him that the workers wouldn't go anywhere, if they weren't sure they had obtained what they wanted. So they felt strong, and I became their leader, and I still am.
Q: Lech, what does it mean to be a leader?
A: It means to have determination, it means to be resolute inside and outside, with ourselves and with the others. Here is what it means: I have been always so, even as a boy, when I was a poor boy living in the country and I wanted to become an aviator. I have always been the ringleader, like the billygoat that leads the flock, like the ox that leads the herd. People need that ox, that billygoat, otherwise the herd goes on its own here and there, wherever there is some grass to eat, and nobody follows the right road. A flock without an animal that leads is a senseless thing without a future. However, I don't know if I really am a leader, I simply know that I smell things, I feel situations, and when the crowd is silent I understand what it silently says. And I say it with voice, with the proper words. But now I have something to ask you. Because you travel a lot, and you know a lot of people, and you can answer. What do people say about me in the West?
Q: Well, they ask themselves, "Who really is this Walesa?"
A: Ha! This is a question they put to themselves in the East, too. "Who is this guy who makes our soldiers sleep in their boots for six months?" "Is he a general?" And it goes without saying that, in the East, the gave themselves an answer already.
Q: Yes, they call you an anarchist, a counterrevolutionary, an enemy of socialism, according to Tass and Pravda.
A: Tell them that I only am a man who wants some justice, a man who wants to be useful to them too, beyond any frontier and color and ideology. The hungry hare has no frontiers and doesn't follow ideologies. The hungry hare goes where it finds the food, and the other hares don't block its passage with tanks. They should learn from the hares. But let's not talk about the East, let's talk about the West. What do they say about me in the West?
Q: Some say that you are a Christian Democrat, others say that you are a grandchild of Rosa Luxemburg [a Polish-born early associate of Lenin who broke with him over the issue of democracy within communism], others that you are a Social Democrat. And there are even some who call you a Eurocommunist. What shall we answer to them?
A: Nothing, because I refuse to express myself with their words, their labels, their slogans, left and right -- socialism and communism, capitalism and Luxemburgism, Christian Democrat and Social Democrat. I express myself with my words: good, bad, better and worse. And I say: If it serves the people, it is good. If it doesn't serve the people, it is bad. Of course, one has to see how and in what sense it serves. One day I shared a little piece of bread with a nice girl, and I felt happy. Another day my wife served me a large portion of excellent sausages, but she did it so rudely that I felt unhappy and I couldn't eat them. I mean, having much food isn't enough and sometimes a little piece of bread is better than a large portion of excellent suasages. At the same time, one has to admit that if there isn't even that little piece of bread we cannot know happiness at all. Thus, we should build up a system which combines the two things: food and happiness. Then I say: Damn it, we live on this earth 50 or 60 years and on one side there are the rich who get richer and richer, on the other side there are the poor who get poorer and poorer. It doesn't work. Richness must be shared. But what do they store up, those rich who don't divide with the others? Anyhow they die, and when they die they leave all to heirs who are never satisfied and who curse them all the same.
Q: But, more or less, the socialists and the communists say these same things, Lech.
A: Nie, nie, nie , I told you that I don't want to use slogans invented by them.
Q: Do you mean that communism has failed?
A: Ha! It depends on the way you measure the concept of good, bad, better, worse. Because if you choose the example of what we Polish have in our pockets and in our shops, then I answer that communism has done very much for us. In fact, our souls contain exactly the contrary of what they wanted. They wanted us not to believe in God, and our churches are full. They wanted us to be materialistic and incapable of sacrifices; we are antimaterialistic, capable of sacrifice. They wanted us to be afraid of the tanks, of the guns, and instead we don't fear them at all.
Q: Lech, let's go back to the sausages without freedom. How to obtain it?
A: Freedom must be gained step by step, slowly. Freedom is a food which must be carefully administered when people are too hungry for it. Suppose that Solidarity obtains some access to TV and through TV it starts yelling: "Away with the thieves, the rascals, the gangsters who robbed us for so many years." How would people react? Cutting off heads, I tell you, flooding the streets with blood. It would be chaos, anarchy. It already happened in the countryside, I saw it with my eyes. All at once the government got busy selling TV sets to the peasants, TV filled their houses with programs which attacked religion, and as a consequence many peasants lost their faith. They even became atheists. Nie, nie, nie . Things cannot change suddenly. It's dangerous. Don't you agree?
Q: Not really. I think that we should never be afraid of freedom, because there is only one thing which teaches freedom, and this is freedom itself. Freedom should never be administered by drops, like a spoonful of milk in the stomach of a starving person.
A: Well . . . On the other hand, one cannot exaggerate it as you do in the West, with all those political parties which don't know what they want, and one disturbs the other, doesn't let the other work, yet one supports the other -- what kind of brothel is that? It seems a brothel to me and nothing else. Never mind that here in Poland it wouldn't be possible to have political parties, because things stay as they are. Here the control must be exercised by the unions. If we will be able to do it, we'll function better than your parties, which waste their time biting each other, collecting gossip on each other: He goes to sleep with her, she goes to sleep with someone else. It doesn't seem to me that your parties have done much, and in all that brothel I see only one indisputable fact: They say they want something and they do the reverse. Am I right?
Q: Yes, but if the unions substitute for the political parties, there is no pluralism, there is only a sharing of power between the party and the unions. Don't you want the pluralism, Lech?
A: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sure. Every person, every group in the whole society must have the right to express itself. But why imitate the parties and use the word party? One can say "association," "club." The club of those who raise canaries, for instance. Or the club of those who pray with the rosary. And as wheat doesn't grow on stones -- I mean, as in Poland we cannot have political parties but the one which already exists, as men must adapt themselves, let the canaries' breeders get together. Let them have a statute which welcomes the formation of other clubs -- the club of those who raise rabbits, or pheasants, or ducks -- and let us all become breeders of canaries, rabbits, pheasants, ducks, chickens. The important thing is that such groups exits freely, so they can serve society, and that the master does not arrest them. Do I say stupid things?
Q: No, Lech, you don't say stupid things.
A: Well, maybe I do. I don't know much about concepts, I never have time to think, and there are so many problems that I must fix in my mind. With you I'm rather thinking out loud. Yet I like it. Gee, do I like it. Because it happens so rarely that you hear the right questions. And right questions make me think. I mean, sometimes it is in talking with others that one gets an idea and says: "Why didn't I think of it before?" Yes, that's how ideas blossom, and this canaries idea might turn out very well.
Q: Yet the idea of growing wheat on stones is good, too.
A: Yeah, yeah, yeah. The problem is that one should remove the stones first. And what if under the stones there isn't the soil to grow wheat? What if the wheat grows short and deformed?
Q: Better than nothing.
A: I don't know. Maybe you are right, maybe you are wrong. But I think that you are wrong, and I am going to demonstrate it. If you want a child, and you want it with all your heart, desperately, do you prefer to have a deformed dwarf or not to have him at all? Oh, I would like to be less tired and to express myself better. I would like . . . Let's go on. But don't put those difficult questions to me, because they give me a headache, and now I have a headache.
Q: All right, an easy question, then. I know that your stepfather lives in America, so I guess that he has invited you many times to join him there. Have you ever planned to emigrate there?
A: Nie, nie, nie , never. I could never leave Poland, never. Besides, I've always thought that a man must live where he was born and grew up, in order to give back to his country what he got from it. Yes, my second father has invited me many times. I call him my second father because he married my mother after the death of my father. My real father died in 1945 from the privations he suffered in the extermination camp where the Germans put him. "Come here. What do you do there?" my second father wrote. But besides the fact that I couldn't live outside Poland, I felt that his invitation didn't come from his heart. It came from the dollars in his pockets. And I was wrong because, when I met him again in Rome last month, I did not recognize him. In Poland he was a poor man, yet always ready to make sacrifices and divide what he had with others. Now he thinks only about money, amusements, and he had lost humanity. The dollars went to his head, I guess, and the result is that I don't get along with him anymore. I see life in a different way, I don't like money as he does. Yes, it's good to have money, we need money to live and raise our children properly, but money isn't all and doesn't give dignity. On the contrary, it gives a lot of temptations and sometimes makes people nasty. Which is why I would never try to become a millionaire.
Q: Then tell me, Lech: Were you angry at your stepfather when he let himself be photographed with Reagon?
A: Nie, nie, nie, nie . I like Reagon. Yeah. I like him a lot. The way he moves, the way he talks: just like me Well, maybe he talks a little better than me, but for sure he moves like me. Look how he walks, or how he waves his hands and his arms. I only hope that he doesn't change, that he doesn't forget where he comes from. It would be a pity. Has he already changed? I'll see when I go to America and I will meet him, I hope.
Q: When will you go to America, Lech?
A: On the one hand I would like to go at once, on the other hand, never. Because I'm still black and blue from the hugs of the Roman crowds and I don't like it when people push me and touch me and kiss me like that. Anyhow, I'll go soon. As soon as I've put some order in the movement, let's say in six or seven months if nothing bad happens. Poland needs help. Not dollars help, I mean political help, economic help, and in order to obtain such help we must have contacts abroad. Nor should we forget that in the West there are people who make cold calculations, agreements, who would like to use the blood of Poland to solve their problems. Yes, I really must go to America. And with the help of our queen, the Holy Virgin, I shall go.
Q: Is that why you wear on your jacket this image of the Black Virgin [a statue of the Madonna that Poles credit with turning back a 17th-century Swedish invasion]? And isn't that image a label too?
A: Nie, nie, nie . It isn't a label, it is a habit. Or, better, a blessing. The Black Virgin has always been a sort of blessing for us Polish, and this particular one . . . I don't even remember who gave it to me, or when. Someone must have put it on my jacket after a pilgrimage. With the rosary also, it happened like this. Someone put a rosary in my hands, and I kept it until it broke. This is not easy for you westerners to understand, I know. The church has never been for you what it has always been for us, a symbol of struggle, I mean, the only institution which never submitted to the oppressors. And when we examine the factors which led to what is happening today in Poland, it is not enough to mention the workers' uprisals in 1956, 1968, 1970, 1976. It isn't even enough to consider our contact with foreigners, I mean the fact that we have been traveling abroad very much in these years and that we have seen how you live in your countries. We also have to consider the election of Pope Wojtyla, his travel to Poland and the continuous obstinate smart work of the church. Without the church nothing could happen, my case itself would not exist, and I would not be what I am. I'll say more: If I hadn't been a believing soul, I wouldn't have resisted, because I had so many threats. So many.
Q: But have you always been so religious, Lech?
A: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Ask my bishop. Even at school, when they taught us communism and I didn't pay any attention. Only between 17 and 19 I got far from the faith. Ha! I got on the wrong path: drinking, ideleness girls. Then something happened. One day I felt very cold, very tired, and I started looking for a place where I could go inside and rest. But there was nothing except a church in the area, so I entered the church and I sat down on a bench. And immediately I got well. So well that I left the wrong path. Now don't misunderstand me, don't believe I am an angel. Angels do not exist and I am no angel. I'm rather a Satan. However, I go to church every morning, and every morning I receive communion, and if I have some major sin to confess, I also go to confession. I say so because I am not that bad, after all. Since I've lived in this world I only got drunk a couple of times, and as for the girls . . . Listen, my wife is not bad. I rather say that she is the ideal woman for me. Had I another wife, by now I would be divorced or killed with a kitchen knife. So I have no reason to betray her. Besides, we have six children. Doesn't that show that we make love well? Much and well. Well, of course, when I happen to be far from her for many weeks as I was recently, I get temptations. I told you that I am no saint.
Q: OK, Lech, it seems to me that your headache is over. So let's go back to the difficult questions. Don't you ever have fears about being manipulated? For example, yesterday in Warsaw a high prelate said to me: "Walesa never does what the cardinal doesn't want."
A: In this respect it is true. I would never do a thing against the faith, the church and even less against Cardinal Wyszynski who arranged our meetings with Gierek and Kania, and even during the strikes of the peasants of Rzeszow and Bielsko-Biala I had to ask him to give me a hand. Without his intervention I wouldn't have been able to call an end to these strikes. So it would be stupid of me if I did something against the cardinal. Nor would he permit anyone to do something against me. Not even somebody with a black skirt [a priest's cassock]. But if somebody with a black skirt tries to use me . . . Listen, I cannot swear that no one tries, on any side. But I can swear that I don't permit anyone to manipulate me, not even to influence me. And if someone tries, I break his nose.
Q: What about the intellectuals, in that sense?
A: From the intellectuals and the peasants, liberas nos Domine [free us, Lord]! I say so: You would never believe the hangover I got from those peasants during their strikes. I kept yelling: "You are mean. Selfish, mean. Stubborn, mean. Don't you understand the situation we are in?" The intellectuals are like them, in a sense. Because they are unable to adjust themselves to the reality of the moment. During the struggle they were perfect, in fact I respect them a lot, yet now they cannot adjust. They would like to go on with the methods we followed before August 1980. Which is the reason why I always shout: "Be realistic. Use your brain." And this proves that I am not manipulated by them. Neither by the church nor by them. Then why do you keep so many professors and teachers and university lecturers in your movement, you may ask. Ha! Because, should I refuse them, they would dig underground like moles and they would get in all the same, through the tunnel. Better say: Come in, sit down. Besides, they're intelligent, and intelligent people are always useful. Provided you don't get inferiority complexes toward them. I don't. Know why? Because intellectuals need a lot of time to understand things, and even more to make a decision. They stay there to discuss, examine, discuss, and in five hours they reach the same conclusion I reached in five minutes or five seconds.
Q: And what about the Communist Party, Lech? I always asked myself why they let you rise so hign and so fast. To exploit you? To use you as an alibi or as a scapegoat? Or maybe to assimilate you?
A: Nie, nie, nie . Being assimilated by the powers is a possibility that I don't even consider. If I wanted such a thing, I would have done it when I was Mr. Nobody. You can't imagine the offers I had. Being assimilated by the powers? I'd rather shoot myself in the head. Dignity counts more than life. Listen, they let me emerge because they didn't have another choice. Literally. Of course, this doesn't . . . I mean, when we speak about Poland we have to consider also the situation abroad. We are controlled. Thus, victims cannot be avoided. People always ask me: "Lech, aren't you afraid of being killed?" And as an answer I shrug my shoulders. I do so little to protect myself. Some of my friends try, they follow me wherever I go, but what is the use? One can be murdered in so many ways, not only with guns. They killed my best friend, they might kill me. I'm a fatalist. If it must happen, it will happen. And I will go to paradise.
Q: Lech, there is a three-month armistice between the government and Solidarity. But not all armistices end up with a peace treaty. What will happen then?
A: To begin with, Solidarity did not sign any armistice. We only said that we wouldn't be hostile toward the new government of [Premier Wojciech] Jaruzelski. Poland needs a strong government, a government capable of governing, and Jaruzelski can do it. Because he is a soldier, he also should have the clean hands which are necessary to clear the country out of bastards with dirty hands. We must let him work. But if the hostilities will come from him and his government, we'll fight. We will, I promise. Whether someone likes it or not.
Q: Whether the Soviets like it or not, you mean. And what if Jaruzelski fails?
A: If he fails and our "brothers" don't "help" us, if he fails and our "allies" don't intervene, then it should be Solidarity that takes the responsibility of government. It is not very likely -- as a matter of fact, it's so unlikely that such a possibility seems to me fantastic. Yet it is a possibility. Yet it is a possibility, it exists. Now let me make this clear: I don't want it, Solidarity doesn't want it, we only want to arrange it so the poor people eat a little more and are a little more satisfied. We want to arrange it, not to make politics, not to govern. But if other choices will not exist, Solidarity must be the choice. If the government says, "This is a mess, we resign," Solidarity should take the responsibility and I should take the situation into my hands. I say it in a firm way. And I add: Poland will never go back to being what it was before August 1980. Never.
Q: Lech, I want to make sure I have understood you. Did you really say that, should this government fail, Solidarity should govern and you should take the situation into your hands?
A: Yes, I said it.
Q: So you were not joking. And do you believe that you would be capable?
A: Yes, I believe it.
Q: Do you also believe that the Communist Party and the Kania government would accept such a capitulation? Yesterday in Warsaw a very important member of the government who also is a very important member of the [Communist Party] central committee said to me: "We shall never agree to share power, and even less to give up power."
A: Today they say so. Tomorrow, who knows? Great empires have fallen during the history of man.
Q: And what would the consequences be with your "brothers," your "allies" -- I mean, with the Soviets? How can you hope that they would permit such a thing, that they wouldn't intervene to help?
A: This is the point, this is the problem, this is why I said that I regard such a possibility as a fantastic possibility.
Q: Less fantastic than a Soviet intervention if you even think to take over, Lech? So let us pronounce these two words that you Polish never pronounce, not even whisper, as if avoiding them could serve to exorcise them: Soviet intervention, Soviet intervention. Brezhnev says them, instead. And Kania, too. Publicly.
A: Oh, oh, oh, how often people raise their voices in order to scare. Don't we do the same in the opposition? I don't think that a violent confrontation would serve them, and they know it. So they will not do it. Or, better . . . Listen, somebody once said to me that everything would start in Poland and that we would obtain all or almost all, and that then we would suddenly lose all, to be resurrected one day and be men again. Well, I don't accept such prophecies, yet I admit that they might contain some truth. Just because of that possible truth I tell you that we don't want to pay such a price. Here is why we follow this tortuous path, and why I fight those who would like to change the moderate line of Solidarity, and why I keep talking of political patience, and why I yell at the intellectuals and at the peasants. And why I remain so vague in speaking with you.
Q: Come on, Lech. Do you really believe that Brezhnev cares about the way we talk? It is not the words that count, it is the facts. And when Kania has to deal with you, when Jaruzelski has to deal with you, when . . .
A: How many times have you seen the Soviet tanks in Poland? How many times have the Soviet tanks come here from August on?
Q: In Czechoslovakia they waited almost eight months.
A: But that solution has never been applied to Poland. Four times at least, Poland has found itself in a tragic situation during the last 25 years, yet we overcame it without the Soviet tanks. This time it will be the same. Besides, Czechoslovakia is not Poland.
Q: It isn't Hungary, either. Yet in Hungary too the Soviet tanks intervened. It is not Afghanistan either, yet Afghanistan is invaded by the Soviets.
A: Poland is different, Poland is different.
Q: Then let me sazy this: Isn't it true that the Polish students have asked and obtained, at least on paper, abolition of the obligatory teaching of Marxism and of the Russian language in their universities?
A: It's true.
Q: Isn't it true that, if the agreement is not respected and the students' strikes are not taken into consideration, the workers will strike for them?
A: Yes, it's true. Solidarity approves what the students are doing on that matter and it will fully support them in that struggle. We are with them, I am with them. The only reason why I did not go to the Lodz university during the students' strike is that I had to stay with the peasants in Rzeszow. The peasant strike's problem was more urgent. But I sent my advisers to Lodz, and they remained there all the time, and every two hours I called to tell them what should be done. Finally, I am the one who arranged the meeting of the students with the deputy premier, [Mieczyslaw] Rakowski.
Q: Well, do you expect the Soviets to accept such a national refusal of their ideology and of their language? Do you really believe that such heresy will go unpunished forever?
A: Nie, nie, nie , and what do you expect from us, then? That we give up? That we stop everything, that we go back to what we were and we say, sorry, it was a joke, we did not mean it, because we don't want to be punished? Should we give up the duty of being men and forget? What other solution do we have but to do what we are doing? I said it and I repeat it: We don't want to pay the price of a violent confrontation, we really don't. But if it will be necessary to pay that price, we will. Nobody will say that we are cowards. Personally I am more than ready to die. I am not as ready to kill: I am not able to kill, not even a chicken to make soup; my stomach gets upset when I see people killing a chicken. Yet if I were attacked, if I had to defend my country, my house, my children, my friends, my fellow workers, I wouldn't hesitate. Oh, why do you make me say these things? Why? You give me a headache again. Now I have a headache again.
Q: I do too, now. I have it too, Lech. So let's keep our headache, both of us, and let's face the last difficult question: But are the Soviet tanks indispensable? Aren't, wouldn't the Polish tanks be enough?
A: Nie, nie, nie, nie . I shall not consider that, no. Not even for a second. I refuse to believe that our bonzes [literally, Buddhist monks] are unable to find a bloodless solution. I refuse to believe that our soldiers will kill our workers. We will solve everything without pain, profitably for the two sides. Why do you ask such a thing?
Q: Because that very important member of the government also said to me: "The Polish army is devoted to the party one thousand percent." A lie?
A: Here is the only question which I cannot answer. This house is filled with microphones. Yes, microphones, and God knows how many there are listening now to this conversation. Yes, since 1972 they have tapped me with their bloody machines, and sometimes I ask myself: How long will it last, how long?
Q: And you, Lech, how long will you last?
A: If they don't kill me, you mean? If everything goes on smoothly? Well, coldly speaking, I would say that from now on I can only descend. Gradually or with a headlong fall. This is because I am not fitted for normal times and Cannot submit myself to the rules and the games. Because I am dead tired and my heart is in bad shape, my health goes to pieces. Because I cannot repeat myself -- that is, I cannot repeat what I have done in August and until today. And finally because, if the worst happens, all the rage of the people will turn on me. And the same ones who applauded me, erected altars for me, will throw stones at me, will trample on me, will trample on me. They will even forget that I acted for good, in good faith. You know, if I were selfish and shrewd, I would cut my mustache and go back to some shipyard. But I shall not do it. I cannot do it. From now on, the situation will become more and more complicated, more and more difficult, and we are going to receive many blows. Yes, many blows. I must stay where I am: to struggle, to extinguish the unnecessary fires, like a fireman, to transform the movement into an organization, to . . .
Q: To raise canaries that sing much and well. Thank you, Lech. Good luck, Lech.
A: Good luck to you, and thanks to you, with all my heart. You have been nice to me and it isn't true that you throw the chador into the face of the people you interview [a reference to the Persian robe Fallaci removed during her interview with the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979]. I have enjoyed these hours we spent together so much, though you gave me a headache twice. You offered me so many ideas which I'll think over. I shall never forget you. And, if the Polish censors will permit publication of your book, "A Man," I will read it. And it will be the first book I've read in my life. Anyhow, if I go to paradise, I'll save a seat for you. So we can talk about the wheat that grows on the stones.